Ankara (GPA) – Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan announced in a meeting with business leaders Monday that Turkey does not plan to back down from its shelling of Afrin.
“The Afrin operation will end when its objectives are reached,” Erdogan said. He added that Syrian opposition forces will support the siege such as the Free Syrian Army.
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said the goal of the operation is to establish a 30km “safe zone” inside Syria, buffering itself and Turkey. He supported the attack by insisting cooperation with Russia against U.S.-backed Kurdish forces.
Turkey Grows Weary of US Support for Kurds
“Operation Olive Branch”, an offensive launched by Turkey on Saturday, sought to eliminate the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), in Syria. Ankara views the YPG as a terror organization equivalent to the Syrian based branch of the banned Kurdish Workers Party (PKK).
Just days prior, Washington expressed willingness to work alongside Kurdish militants to set up a 30,000-strong border force near the Turkish border, angering Ankara. Turkish jets bombarded the city starting late afternoon on Saturday in response.
However, Major Adrian Rankine-Galloway, a spokesman for the US Department of Defense (DOD), denied supporting the fighters of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) or those of the PKK in Afrin, despite a recent history of military support.
By Sunday, Turkish warplanes and artillery struck 153 PYD/PKK targets in Syria’s Afrin, according to Turkish officials.YPG officials reported that Turkish ground presence in Afrin had turned back, effectively forcing a retreat.
Damascus warned Turkey on Thursday against launching an attack on the Syrian town, adding that their forces were prepared to defend the territory should an offensive occur.
Iranian military chief Major General Mohammad Baqeri also warned Turkey, in a telephone conversation with Turkish Chief of General Staff, against threatening Syrian sovereignty and causing danger to Syrian civilians in the region.
Julia is a Detroit-based freelance journalist, activist, researcher, and chair of local US Palestine Community Network.